Using Meditation Timers for Your Meditation Practice
Whether you are new to meditation or a veteran of the practice, there is probably one question that comes to mind and disturbs your meditation session every time: how long have I been meditating? Since we live in physical bodies in the physical world, we have certain responsibilities and, on the average day, we have "things" we need to get to such as work, appointments, chores, children's activities, and so forth. As much as we'd like to meditate to our heart's content, we have other tasks to accomplish in a day. We sometimes have to limit how long we can meditate. Or, for beginners, we want to set and achieve a goal of progressively longer meditation sessions.
So, we go down to the kitchen and grab either the digital timer or the wind-up, tick-tick-tick timer and establish a fixed period of time in which we can meditate. We quickly learn that the tick-tick-tick timer is way too distracting and the loud beep of the digital timer is nerve-wracking. We could set the alarm clock, but this too has an annoying sound that literally jerks us out of our meditative state. And, we discover the next morning that we overslept because we forgot to reset the alarm time.
Of course, the solution is to find a partner who will sit with us, watch the clock, and gently ring a gong or nudge us when the appointed time has past. But, just in case you don't have a willing partner to perform this task, there are some wonderful electronic devices that can do this for you.
The Salubrion Enso Pearl
The Enso Pearl by Salubrion is a wonderful timer, clock, and alarm in one package. It has selectable sounds, but the most-liked is the gong sound, which is a nice, long-sustained, Tibetan Bowl gong sound. It's very simple to use as a meditation timer. Press the "Timer" button at the top, set the amount of time (down to the second if needed), and press the "Start" button. The outer circle (Enso is Japanese for Circle) will slowly draw to completion during the countdown. So, if you peak to see how far you've gone, you can quickly see by the length of the circle.
The Enso Pearl also has sophisticated functions for setting up a gong repeater or setting up interval gongs of varying lengths. Some meditation practices involve certain breathing patterns for various lengths of time or gongs at certain intervals for mindfulness or to simply remind you that you are meditating and not simply taking a nap.
This is certainly the most versatile and portable timer available.
The Meditation Timer - also known as the Gong or Pyramid Meditation Timer
The Meditation Timer is by far the simplest design and yet, it has an elegant look. It's pyramid shape looks good in any environment and it is made of natural wood to take away the "technical" look of a timing device. The gong sounds are deep and rich, but subtle so that you are most gently brought out of meditation. On the bottom of the timer are 3 simple controls. There is the On and Off button, which is a push button much like a mouse button. There is a volume button with two settings for soft and normal. And, the final control is a simple dial to select from the 8 fixed time settings of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 45, or 60 minutes.
Turn the dial to the desired number of minutes, press the On button and, in twenty seconds, the beginning 3 gongs are heard. The timer runs silently during the time duration and only a red LED glows to show that the timer is still running. At the end of the session, several light taps are heard followed by 3 gongs to signal the end of the session. The timer then turns itself off. What a lovely yet simple device.
Using a Meditation Timer to Begin a Meditation Practice
If you are new to meditation, you may be finding the practice to be more difficult than you first expected. Sitting still and quieting the mind is quite difficult. You quickly feel figity and restless, and your mind quickly starts wandering off to all sorts of thoughts about what you need to do for the day or an interpersonal transaction that didn't go as you hoped. With practice you learn to let go of the thoughts and to treat the "wandering offs" with loving care and to bring yourself back to the breath.
A meditation timer can help you improve your practice in two ways. One is start out with shorter sessions. At first you find that meditating for 20 minutes seems impossible. But, use the timer to practice getting to 5 minutes, and then to 10 minutes, and so on. As each level becomes easier to do, you can congratulate yourself on your accomplishment and then increase the timer to a new level.
Using an interval timer such as the Enso Pearl or the Combi Timer (another type of Pyramid Timer) you can add interval gong sounds to encourage mindfulness during your meditation or to help bring you back to your center if the mind has wandered off.
But, Why Are Meditation Timers Are So Expensive?
Yes, they are a bit pricey. This is mainly because they are not mainstream. Remember basic economics back in high school? It's the rule of supply and demand. These timers are made in small quantities - far fewer than cars, and in minuscule numbers compared to the production of socks. It's not that the manufacturers are taking advantage of the small number of people who want to buy meditation timers, it's that small assemblies are more costly to operate. When manufacturers make 1 million parts of some kind, they can easily reduce the cost with efficiencies in the process. But, when only 5,000 parts are made, they generally have to be done on a smaller scale with specialized equipment and more "hands on" work.
Still, the prices are not outrageous and these timers last for years. Plus, if they help you achieve a greater state of meditation. They have served a more valuable purpose that goes beyond their initial expense.
There are cheaper options including our Klip Vibe timer at $19.95, but this device does not make a nice gong sound - it has a vibration signal at the end of the countdown. At this price, it's a pretty nice option during this difficult economy. Unfortunately, the Klip Vibe timer was discontinued by the manufacturer. Therefore, our least expensive alternative is now the Polder Buzz and Beep Timer at $15.95.
I hope this review of Meditation Timers has been helpful to you. I personally use one of our pyramid Meditation Timers and I have an Enso Pearl for traveling. These devices have been a terrific aid to my meditation practice. I meditate every day and this practice has enhanced my life in so many ways.
Thank you for reading,
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